Comic Review – Spider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“… You’ll find what you need” – Aunt May

Marvel have released a new series of Spider-Man written by J. J. Abrams and his son and it came out today. I was curious to see what kind of spin they put on the character and what new telling of the Spider-Man story they could manage. This first issue goes in big and early to really shake up the Spider-Man formula. There is a major character death early on in the issue (bail out now if you’d rather not know who) and a significant time skip to show a very different Spider-Man to the one we know and love.

This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – J.J. Abrams and Henry Abrams
  • Artist – Sara Pichelli
  • Ink Artist – Elisabetta D’Amico
  • Colour Artist – Dave Stewart
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna

Spoilers from here on! The issue begins with a new foe – Cadaverous – and Spidey duking it out. During the battle however, Mary Jane is brutally murdered by this new villain. Peter is traumatised by the events and twelve years in the future he is a distant father to his son Ben. Ben lives with May and struggles to stay out of trouble in school. He fights, he wins, and he protects the weaker kids a lot like a certain hero. I have read, watched and played more than my fair share of Spider-Man media in my time and this is the first time I have seen such a pessimistic variant of Peter Parker. I’ve seen him met with mixed reviews online, though to me as this has a very ‘alternate universe’ or ‘what if?’ feeling to me I would like to see where they go with the character. The arc they are setting up is for Ben to pick up the mantle and Peter to be dragged back into the crime fighting lifestyle and rebuild his relationship with his son. Whether or not this happens I’ll be sure to find out.

Pichelli’s art excels at set piece character conversations where emotion and detail is clearly communicated through expression and body language. On the other side however while the combat set pieces are aesthetically very impressive, this certainly felt like of the least dynamic/acrobatic Spider-Man (Spider-Men? Spider-Mans?) I have come across. With the passing of the torch I would like to see a more flexible and inventive Spidey in battle

D’Amico’s inks and Stewart’s colours bring the tone of the comic to life, providing an atmosphere of apprehension and dread early on and calm or distance and tension later in the issue.

Final Verdict

I liked this issue, I can see why I have seen a mixed response to it in places, however I try to be open to new tellings and approaches to a hero. While this is not the Peter I know and love there is plenty of time for him to return and it’s not like the shock of the death in the issue wouldn’t impact any one of us in his shoes.

Score: 7.75 Freaky Dreams out of 10

Comic Review – DCeased: A Good Day to Die #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“God is dead” – Mr Miracle

DCeased has been DC’s take on the superhero zombie angle Marvel capitalised on during the mid-2000s. I’ve been reading it and have to describe it as better than it deserves to be. A Good Day to Die looks to bring in other characters in the DC Universe to show some of the other attempts at salvaging this universe in some shape or form. With the main series focused on the Justice League, this issue picks up with Mr Miracle, Big Barda, Mr Terrific, John Constantine, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold in their desperate attempt to fix things by any means necessary.

This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Tom Taylor
  • Artist – Laura Braga, Darick Robertson
  • Ink Artist – Richard Friend, Trevor Scott, Darick Robertson
  • Colour Artist – Rain Beredo
  • Trading Card Artist – Madeline McGrane
  • Letterer – Saida Temofonte

The issue begins with Mr Miracle and Big Barda watching Apokalips explode as Darkseid’s mistake that started everything comes to it’s inevitable conclusion where it all began. As the reality of what has occurred dawns on them, they’re reached out to by Mr Terrific. The team then begin to address what may be some of the inevitable fan questions – the ‘why don’t they just use magic etc?’. This isn’t a happy story however, as you’ll have guessed by the title of the issue we see each of the team’s efforts come to tragic ends as they desperately try to avert the apocalypse with one desperate strategy after another, with some real jerk moves by the powers that be at times.

The story in this issue ties in neatly with the main series with Taylor’s writing hinting at the disasters taking place elsewhere in the world. As with the main series punches are not pulled when it comes to character deaths.

Braga and Robertson work well together throughout the issue. The imagery is as powerful as the main series, although some of the character deaths don’t quite have the full punch they do in the main series when you see them take place. Constantine is fun throughout the issue – desperately trying to scrape by while shamelessly showing his contempt for regular superheroes he ultimately begrudgingly admits he is one of.

Final Verdict

This issue is a fun tie in to supplement the DCeased main run. As with the main series I would label this as ‘better than it deserves to be’ with the concept being one which shouldn’t really hold up in modern comics, though still manages to with a fun self-awareness of its own ridiculousness. The art could maybe be a little stronger, though it is still solid enough to deliver a strong horror and shock factor as and when it’s needed.

If you read the main series, this is definitely worth your time. If not however, I would suggest starting with the main series and picking this up if you enjoy it.

Score: 8 Bottles from the Top Shelf out of 10

Comic Review – The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #47 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“She did it. She ruined my life” Squirrel Girl

One of my earliest reviews was back in 2015 when one of my favourite comic book characters, Squirrel Girl, was given her own series. Ryan North has written a wonderfully fun series, providing a breath of fresh air in modern comic books with what is essentially a silver age comic book character running about the modern-day Marvel world and succeeding. With the announcement by North that this Squirrel Girl will be coming to an end at issue 50, quitting while its ahead as opposed to being cancelled, it felt appropriate for me to revisit as the final arc kicks off.

Cover by Erica Henderson (Marvel)

This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Ryan North
  • Artist – Derek Charm
  • Colour Artist – Rico Renzi
  • Trading Card Artist – Madeline McGrane
  • Letterer – Travis Lanham
  • Cover Artist – Erica Henderson

Issue 47 draws together North’s original cast of characters who have become Doreen Green’s (Squirrel Girl’s) closest, most trusted friends and supporters, and really brings to life North’s take on the character. Fun, smart, capable, and approaches her problems laterally with a real-world computer science-based approach. The tone is light-hearted with fun references to everything from Doreen’s classic battles to existentialist philosophy. North’s own villain Melisa Morbeck has set herself up to be Doreen’s final challenge which she certainly does in an explosive opening. Doreen is faced with an existential threat both socially and facing a full roster of villains with a total power greater than anything she’s faced before (keep in mind she’s taken Thanos and Galactus) which feels wonderfully true to the series and her character. North also frames Doreen’s greatest power as the power of friendship, which would effectively work as the tag-line to this series.

Art by Charm and Renzi (Marvel)

Charm’s art is wonderfully full of life, the combined with the colours Renzi provides gives us a dynamic opening battle and engaging issue which jumps out of the page to drag the reader in. The issue feels like a Saturday morning super hero cartoon we used to watch as kids and is all the better for it. Henderson, the series original artist, returns as the cover artist which is the only right way to do this having provided the defining current look of squirrel girl.

The ending of this series pulls together all that was great about North’s run and serves as a wonderful tribute to his interpretation of Squirrel Girl. I believe this run has done so well this has effectively become the public’s interpretation of Squirrel Girl, taking her from a joke character to a fully engaged super hero.

Final Verdict

As you can tell I have been a huge fan of the series, it’s been one I looked forward to each time its released. While I am a little sad the series is coming to an end quitting while you’re ahead is something that I’m sure most of modern day super hero stories probably won’t manage to do.

Score: 10 Squirrel Scouts out of 10

Comic Review – Marvels Epilogue (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“The police moved us off, taking control of the scene. And Jenny and Beth wanted to see EVERYTHING” Phil Sheldon

Art by Alex Ross (Marvel)

This week I had the chance to pick up the Marvels Epilogue, the stand-alone sequel to one of Marvel’s most iconic series. The classic Marvels tale is being re-released this year to celebrate the 25th anniversary since its first circulation. This epilogue provides a follow up to see the end of Phil Sheldon’s (the lead character) story and yet another classic Marvel event for him (and his family this time) to bear witness to.

This comic follow up was written by the original team:

  • Writer – Kurt Busiek
  • Artist – Alex Ross
  • Further Research: T.J Ross; Mark Kolodn;, Lisa and Keneu Luna; Devon Chulik; Alanna Smith; Meghan Khameral; Steve Darnell

Phil Sheldon, the photographer who documented the lives of the ‘Marvels’ of Universe 616 takes a chance to take his mind off work and the wonders and terrors of the Marvel Universe. We get to see another classic Marvel event kick off though – when Sentinels face off against the X-Men. Their powers are on full display as the X-Men beat back their foes. Phil’s daughters are captivated by the spectacle in front of them and react the same way actual kids and adults (definitely myself!) respond to Marvel’s films. Additionally, we are treated to wonderful little cameos by many classic Marvel characters – everyone from X-Men to Nick Fury and even Clark Kent and Lois Lane sneaking into the top panel of page four.

Art by Alex Ross (Marvel)

Ross’s art is beautiful, it’s telling that Kent and Lane are immediately identifiable, although Ross really gets to strut his stuff when portraying Storm’s transformation sequence. The detail and expression throughout the issue is wonderful with each page packed with visual information. Ross’s art is a favourite of mine and he really shines in this issue as he did in the original series. There’s a two page spread right at the end which provides a highlight reel of the series, with classic images such as the human torch ablaze.

The atmosphere of the comic is once of celebration with Sheldon’s love for his family and the world he lives in shining through. We also see wonderful characterisations for even small cameos such as a young and very eager to help Nova who wants to get involved, or Wolverine looking for a light.

The second half of the issue contains interviews, sketches and is packed with bonuses and Easter eggs.

Final Verdict

The only criticism I can give of this issue is that I wish it was longer. It’s a wonderful throw back to the classic Marvels series and provides a well rounded finish to a classic story.

Score: 10 Marvels out of 10

Comic Review – Avengers #21 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Let us enjoy that victory together, Brother Stark! In the Avengers’ tub of hotness!” Thor

Cover by Caselli & Martin (Marvel)

I’m back with another comic review. This week, picking up from Adam’s War of the Realms round up last time, the Avengers are getting back into the swing of things and refocusing on the other threats around the world.

The current Avengers run has been consistently outstanding, and while I enjoyed the War of the Realms a lot I’m really looking forward to seeing what battles they’ll be fighting next! This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Jason Aaron
  • Artist – Jason Masters
  • Colour Artist – Jason Keith
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna
  • Cover Artist – Stefano Caselli and Frank Martin

The War of the Realms is over and the battle is won. The Avenger’s are taking a well deserved break while Blade is on his way to pick up the good fight against the creatures of the night. We get to see the team relax and some enjoyable casual banter between Earth’s mightiest heroes. I enjoy these moments, they help the team feel more real and it helps develop the relationships between the characters. With this being a team series individual development for each character is more limited than in their own series, however Aaron’s writing is on point to give the team a chance to express themselves, help any new readers get sighted on who they are and what they’ve been going through in this run. We get reminded of the present threats to the Avengers – the vampires, Squadron Supreme of America (really looking forward to this clash!), the Russians and even Atlantis and the mystery around some of their opponents continues to deepen.

Art by Masters, Keith & Caramagna (Marvel)

Master’s art throughout is details and has a sense of calm to it. Working with Keith they bring an grounded feel to the issue, slowing the rampant pace from the War of the Realms to something where we can really see our heroes relax. The expressions and details on the characters works well to communicate their feeling in conversation, and I do appreciate the image of Iron Man shamelessly wearing his mask (apparently only his mask…) in the Avengers’ hot tub!

The cover art by Caseilli and Martin shows a victorious team which sets the tone for the issue. This is a time to take stock and get ready for the next challenge.

Final Verdict

This run continues to be something I look forward to every time it comes out. If you want a chance to hop on board now is the time and this is the issue to do so with. The events of War of the Realms I’m sure will lead to interesting stories for the likes of Thor, and the current take on Hulk has been really interesting. I’d highly recommend this series to anyone.

Comic Book Review – The War of the Realms #6 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

Cover by Arthur Adams & Matthew Wilson (Marvel Comics)

Its been a while since we did a comic book review, but this week the finale of Marvel’s The War of the Realms came out with issue #6, so it seemed appropriate to dive into! This event has been the culmination of years of work on Thor from writer Jason Aaron, with interior art on the event by Russell Dauterman, cover by Arthur Adams, colours by Matthew Wilson and lettering by VC’s Joe Sabino.

War has come to Midgard, and the Avengers and the rest of the world’s heroes struggle to fight off the forces of Malakith the Accursed and his allies, who have already laid waste to all of the other realms. Thor hangs from the World Tree in the middle of the sun, seeking an answer for how to defeat Malakith and end the war. Meanwhile Malakith awaits Thor at Stonehenge, where he has his parents Odin and Freya hostage and will kill them unless Thor alone comes to face him.

In this finale, Earth’s forces turn the tide on their invaders. Despite their losses, in New York (the exact centre of the Marvel Universe I believe) Captain Marvel tangles with Sindr, Queen of Muspelheim, while Daredevil (now the God Without Fear) leads the charge against Laufey, the Kind of the Frost Giants. At Stonehenge, Thor Odinson takes an artful interpretation of the fact that only ‘Thor’ can penetrate the magical shield Malakith has erected to bring allies in with him, as both his older and younger selves join the fight, along with Jane Foster: Thor, Goddess of Thunder. Together they take on Malakith and some of his strongest forces to save Odin and Freya and stop the War of the Realms.

The War of the Realms is the payoff of years of work, with possibly more set up than any event comic I have ever read. This is ridiculous superhero comics at its best, and Aaron and co totally stick the landing. With 6 issues they have told a complete story, that not only never felt like it was treading water (as events often do), but was also somehow magically delivered on time (as events never are). Nothing drags, everything is just a constant dopamine hit. Aaron’s character work over years, particularly with Odinson and Jane Foster, is so strong at this point and both have immensely satisfying arcs that finish up here, and have so much potential for the future. Most supporting characters are largely just that in this finale, but a few get the chance to shine (notably Daredevil). But this was always a Thor event. There are just a lot of Thors to share the spotlight.

Art by Dauterman, Wilson & Sabino (Marvel Comics)

Speaking of a dopamine hit – Russell Dauterman’s art on this book. Not to take anything away from the more recent arc on Thor, but I loved Dauterman during the Jane Foster era, and it is great to see him stretch into the full Marvel roster. But the scale and magic in this finale are what is truly impressive, from the insides of a boiled sun, to both a storm of gods and a god storm, everything is just gorgeous. And constantly on fire. Wilson’s colours make the art burst off the pages, with a richness of palette that makes the ethereal and the brutal seem real. Sabino’s letter work impresses too, with so much going on and so much being said, it only takes centre stage when it needs to, and remains discretely guiding the rest of the issue.

The War of the Realms has been a triumph of an event, hitting on all cylinders and showing the full scale of how ridiculous and amazing superhero comics can be, especially when you have a great art team that can deliver the insane ideas of the writer to their fullest. I can’t wait to see what is coming next for Thor and Jane, despite the bittersweet knowledge that the story to come in King Thor will be Aaron’s last on the character. Pick this up at your local comic shop now!

 

Comic Review – Age of X-Man Alpha #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“It is the age of perfection” – Narrator

Cover art by Phil Noto (Marvel Comics)

With a new X-Men series kicking off I took the chance this week to return to the team to see how they are holding up. This is an ‘Age of’ series which means we are talking alternate timelines/realities and the majority of the team will have some kind of presence. This one will be the Age of X-Man Alpha, so we can assume that Nate Grey, aka X-Man will be pivotal to everything that is going in this run. In my experience the plots to the ‘Age of’ runs can contain fascinating concepts and alternate takes on characters so this was well worth a look.

This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writers – Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler
  • Artist – Ramon Rosanas
  • Colour Artist – Triona Farrell
  • Letterer – VC’s Clayton Cowles
  • Cover Artist – Phil Noto

The world is a utopia, where mutant-kind has come back from the brink of extinction, mutants and homo-sapiens live in a fully integrated society where the stigma of the X-gene seems to be completely gone (It’s interesting to see no mention of Inhumans however). The X-Men play a critical role in keeping people safe and many of the team have taken a step out of the super-hero life to bring up and educate mutants in this new world. The steps that bought about this world, where peace and harmony has finally been achieved, are yet to be explained, although it is apparent that many of the original A-listers have unfortunately passed away to bring this about. It’s only at the end of the issue where it becomes clear that this world and peace is not what it seems. It does bring about the question, yet again, as to if the dream of Professor X is ultimately achievable at all. Nate Grey himself plays a role in the issue, but no more than the other characters, if this is to be his story his role is not totally apparent yet.

Art by Rosanas, Farrell & Cowles (Marvel Comics)

Rosanas and Farrell combine well to portray a world that feels dream-like. This does seem to be Professor X’s dream fully realised, so the light touch line work from Rosanas and light colour pallet from Farrell really help create that atmosphere. The contrast towards the end of the issue, where the twist is revealed, in the change in pallet and use of light emphasises the uncertainty as to what is really going on.

Final Verdict

We don’t know much about the world of Age of X-Man Alpha yet. It’s clear that not everything is what it seems, though I doubt there would be much of a comic if it was. The issue did drag a little to begin with for me, though it’s clear the world building was trying to be set out.

My one major issue is less to do with the story itself, but the huge number of tag lines saying “Find Out Why This Character Is Picking His Nose in The Amazing Nose Picking Mutant #1” or at least something to that effect. At times this felt less like a first issue and more like a run of adverts. I am curious to see where the plot goes and what is really going on here. Hopefully outside of the first issue there won’t be so many of these though.